A little bit of strategy... | Daylily Blog on AHS Junior Citations

All is fair in love and daylilies. Okay, maybe not in daylilies. Not all races are won by the fastest or the strongest, sometimes the winners are simply the smartest. Such is true in the individual cultivar awards given by the American Hemerocallis Society.

These awards are coveted, and for the most part are voted on by AHS Garden Judges, a group of your peers who undergo training and exams to become eligible to vote on the ballot for AHS Awards each year. There is one particular award that is a write-in vote only, and a daylily has to receive at least 10 write-in votes to win it. It is the Junior Citation.

This award was established in 1950 to focus attention on new cultivars that appear to have outstanding qualities and distinction. It should be understood that this award does not necessarily imply good performance in various climates and soil types. In order to win, a cultivar may not have been registered prior to September 1 of the voting year. Garden Judges must cast their votes only for cultivars personally observed growing in a garden. Votes are cast using either a seedling number or a pre-registered name. It must receive a minimum of 10 votes. Once a Junior Citation has been awarded, the hybridizer has one year from notification to complete registration in order for the Junior Citation to be awarded.

You must publicize (or in lighter words, somehow convey the intent) your seedlings, and provide a number for the judges to write-in on their annual ballot. If 10 Garden Judges choose to write your seedling number and your name on their ballot, your seedling wins a Junior Citation from the AHS!

The key is to gently let Garden Judges know your intentions.

You must somehow mark in your garden, or call attention to the seedlings you wish to seek a Junior Citation. Judges will take notes of the names and numbers of seedlings as they visit gardens throughout the bloom season. You can find out who the AHS Garden Judges are here. If 10 of them write-in your seedling number and your name, you will win the award.

This is where ethics, enthusiasm and education come into play. How can you ethically promote your seedlings without being overly zealous and annoying? How much effort are you willing to expend to bring awareness to your Junior Citation candidates? How will you provide the information judges need to remember your seedling and vote for it?  Only you can answer those questions. Everyone will have a different approach.

Above is a photo I took at River Bend Gardens of a seedling Sandy Holmes was successfully promoting to Garden Judges for the Junior Citation in the summer of 2009. Tom Polston and Doug Sterling of Pleasant Valley Gardens do a very good job at this type of education, too.  She printed takeaway cards with a pic of the seedling and all the information the Garden Judge needed to write-in her seedling on the ballot. Interested judges could take these little cards and keep them until needed, as a reminder of what seedlings were worthy of the Junior Citation. Incidentally, this seedling is now registered and for sale as H. 'I Lava You.' Congrats, Sandy!

The moral of the story is this: if you would like to see how your seedlings stack up to the Garden Judges Scale of Points and criteria of excellence, you should set some of them up as Junior Citation candidates, publicize them to Garden Judges and see what happens!  There are no forms to fill out, no formal process, no one to contact, no one to approve you promoting your seedlings to compete for Junior Citation votes.  Invite some Garden Judges to your yard, take advantage of local tours and AHS functions and make sure to show them your Junior Citation candidates. 

Sandy's method shown above is a great way to leave the judge with a reminder of your worthy seedlings.  Believe me, I see thousands of seedlings each year and when it comes time to fill out my ballot, I never remember which ones I wanted to vote for.  If hybridizers gave me a little token reminder, I would be more likely to vote for it!  Wouldn't you?

But, remember...education, enthusiasm and ethics are key in your efforts to promoting your seedlings and winning some of the AHS Individual Cultivar Awards.

Mike and Sandy Holmes are blogging daylilies themselves.  Maybe one of them will post on what they look for in a Junior Citation candidate and how they choose what they will individually put up each year for the award...

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